Image of slate with text: 30 Days of Thanks

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow is November 1. I don’t know how it is upon us so quickly. It seems like it was just here!

Once again, I will be using this blog to participate in 30 Days of Thanks throughout November. In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. 30 Days of Thanks started as a way for people to express gratitude on more than just one day. I participated in 30 Days of Thanks using my Facebook account until I had a blog. Last year I wrote profiles of friends and family members – thank you notes expressing why they are so important in my life.

By far, the most momentous event in my life this past year was my trip to Australia. Many people supported my travel with gifts and donations. Without their help and generosity, the trip would not have happened.

When I was raising funds for the trip, I promised to write a personalized memoir for those donors. So, I plan to use my 30 Days of Thanks this year to recognize some of the people who made my dream a reality.

I have obtained permission from everyone I will profile. There are others who made donations towards my trip who do not wish me to share their thank you on my blog. I am respecting their wishes and will send them personal notes. Unfortunately, there are only thirty days in November and I need more days to thank everyone individually. I have contacted those supporters who will not be profiled over the next thirty days due to space or prior profiles last year, and they know I am not snubbing them by not including them on the blog this year.

How blessed I am to have so many people to thank! This is really a wonderful “problem” to face. I am surrounded by love and humbled by the generosity so many extended to me this past year.

While I am sharing my thank you’s this month, I will not be writing any Redefining Disability Challenge posts. Those posts will resume on Wednesdays in December.

I often hear people grumble and complain about the need to write thank you notes. However, I view them as a gift for the giver. And I love giving unique gifts, so I enjoy writing them. I appreciate all of you who will take the time to read my notes over the next month, and encourage you to make time to offer some thanks to those who matter in your world.


Day 365

Tomorrow, September 7, will mark the one year anniversary of DeeScribes. Today is the 365th day of my renewed writing adventure. Aside from January 24 when I spent the day having an adventure with my friend Tara, I have written at least 500 words per day for a complete year. Knowing this milestone was approaching, I have been reflecting on the past twelve months and all I have learned since I started sharing my writing dreams on a public platform.

Thanks to the Broadway musical Rent, I know a year consists of five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes. We mark the passage of those minutes in many ways. Twelve months, four seasons, one birthday – all ways to mark time.

You can measure a year in numbers. Thanks to the WordPress statisticians, I know the past year for DeeScribes has consisted of 173 posts, 4,342 visitors and 223 followers. Not bad for someone who was scared to publicly admit her writing dreams prior to last September.

But while I kept an eye on the numbers from time to time, I have never been too concerned about them. To me they are not an indicator of success. Instead, I have measured success in the number of authentic interactions I have had with fellow bloggers and my readers.

I am thrilled to have a small audience of regular followers. Their comments provide encouragement and make me consider different viewpoints daily. I am appreciative of the meaningful interactions with so many of you, my faithful readers. You have supported me when I tried new challenges or techniques. You have welcomed me into your lives and I am richer for the experience of our virtual interactions.

Writing a blog has given me a new network of peers. I traveled internationally twice during the past year and both times I had the privilege of meeting fellow bloggers I now consider friends. Each day I learn something new from the online community at My 500 Words. I have realized I am not alone in my fears related to sharing my work and discovered new ways to be productive during stressful times. I am encouraging other writers who are struggling to find their voices, celebrating their accomplishments as they respond in kind to mine.

I am grateful for the connections I have made with other bloggers in the disability community. Each one of them uses their platform to advocate for change, forcing me to explore my own feelings towards issues which matter to me on a personal level. I am honored to have new relationships with writers who produce work I had previously read. I am still blown away by events which happened in December when a mutual online friend helped me connect with the amazing Stella Young just three days before her unexpected death.

Whether you were here from the beginning or have just joined me on my writing journey, I am grateful you chose to spend some of your time at DeeScribes. I am excited to discover what the next year will bring. I hope you will stick around as I continue to pursue my writing dreams. I AM a writer – and I’m not afraid to say it any longer.

THANK YOU for reading!

Two geese on a green lawn with a pond in the background.

Are You Ready?

Earlier this year, while stuck at home recuperating from a wheelchair vs. knee incident (tip – the 250 pound power chair always wins these showdowns), I had a conversation with my sister Caroline. To be honest, I had conversations with all of my sisters who called to check on me that week. But, for this post, let’s focus on the conversation with Caroline, also known to all of us as ‘Crinnie.’

During our call, Crinnie and I were discussing one of my past relationships and she said something which got me thinking. I told her to hold on as I furiously scribbled it down. Crinnie is always doing this – offering me sentences which serve as great writing prompts. Thank you Crinnie. I’m finally getting around to using your prompt.

I have read several blog posts and articles about “how to live without fear” or “conquering your fears.” I’ve even written about facing fear. You might think I would not need to have my head whacked by a comment from my sister to realize there is more to the story. But there I was last January, wrapped in a penguin fleece blanket with an ice bag on my knee, discussing future plans and…BANG! Crinnie comes out with this keen observation.

You can’t be fearless until you are in the right place.

This sentence served as one of those “a-ha moments.” I instantly started spouting off about how I had not been able to be fearless in 2011 when I was miserable and stuck in a job I did not enjoy. I often let fear hold me back when I am struggling to maintain adequate personal assistant staffing. For almost two years after my sister Mary Jane died I cultivated my relationship with grief, which left me mired in fear without strength to pursue any of my passions. Then, I had to recuperate from my illness and near-death experience in 2013 before I was strong enough to recognize I needed to face fear and resume my personal writing.

In 2014, I enrolled in an introduction to memoir writing course, and realized I would have to share my personal writing – not just the writing I routinely do for my profession – with others for the first time in almost twenty years. I knew the only way I was going to continue to write and make progress in my writing was to practice in a public manner which is why I created DeeScribes. The tag line for this blog is “Following her writing dreams.” In a nutshell, it is why I started this blog.

Sharing work I am paid to create is different than sharing work I choose to create. Sharing my personal stories requires me to be vulnerable. Professional writing does not contain my personal opinions or ideas. The content I create for my employer is not my unique voice.

But when I share my personal stories, I expose a piece of my spirit and identity to others. I draw back the curtains I use to hide my walls and defenses, often to reveal something I’ve previously kept hidden. This is scary stuff and sometimes causes many writers to keep their content to themselves. It kept me from sharing my writing for decades.

Though I eventually did take action – participating in classes and starting a blog – I was never fearless. I am scared every time I share a new essay. Even with this post, my 170th post on this blog, there is a quiet voice inside my head saying, “What makes you think anyone is going to read this and find it useful or worthy of their time?” I fear my words will not be helpful, my meaning not understood. I worry someone will grant me the honor of five minutes of their valuable time and, upon reading my words, think, “Well, that was a waste.”

Just because I am in the right place to take action, does that mean I am in the right place to be fearless? What does it even mean to be in the right place to be fearless – and is fearless what I want to be?

These questions almost cause me to cease action. Then I challenge myself with the same query I offer other members of my writing group when they bring up similar thoughts.

Who am I writing for? Am I writing because I have an audience, small as it may be, or am I writing for me?

I know the answer. I am writing for me, just as I was when I wrote this post, and this post, and every post here on this blog. I am writing because nobody else can tell my story exactly as I can. I am writing because it helps me process my thoughts and understand my emotions and ideas. I write each day because when I don’t, it feels like something is missing, there is a gap which must be filled.

I have never been scared of writing. My fear comes when I must share my writing with others. The fear comes from comparing what I have written to the words others have written and thinking I may not “measure up.” But comparing myself to others does not further my attempts to complete my writing goals. It does not matter if I am “good enough.” I am telling my story in my words, the best way I can. If others choose not to read it, should I stop telling it?

If I honestly examine my journal writing and the thoughts in my head, I know I no longer want to be fearless when it comes to sharing my writing. Even if I may be in the “right place” in my life, even though I feel compelled to write, I want to keep that tingle of fear which gives me pause each time I prepare to hit ‘publish.’ I want to remain critical as I edit a guest post again, and again, and again, and yet again. Fear keeps me striving to learn more, to continually try to improve, to rally against complacency.

Even when we feel we are in a strong place in our lives, when things are going well and we are ready for action, it is still difficult to face fear. Perhaps the answer is not finding strength to face the fear, but rather finding resources to help us take small steps forward with the fear instead of letting it paralyze us.

I didn’t take physics in high school, but I know a body at rest stays at rest until an outside force acts upon it while bodies in motion tend to stay in motion. Forward motion is necessary – even when we fear we may fall, or pale in comparison to others. If we let fear keep us still, we will never be able to touch and help others with our unique gifts and talents.


The Derwent River Valley in Tasmania
The Derwent River Valley in Tasmania.

I am safely home, back in cold upstate New York. It is 12:45 PM Sunday as I write this, and my body thinks it is 3:45 AM Monday because it is still on east coast Australia time. My head is woozy, my feet are swollen and my heart is 14,000 miles away. I am pretty sure this is jet lag.

I have not unpacked from my trip, and I am unsure when I will. Remember all of the apartment renovations I wrote about which were to be completed while I was gone? I returned home to find they were not done.

No new carpets. Incomplete paint job. Piles of boxes still surround me and I have just enough room to maneuver my chair from room to room. The mess would have been horrific but for the kindness of my friends Sally and Susan, who spent hours cleaning my bathroom and kitchen yesterday so I could function for the next few days. I already have an appointment with the property manager tomorrow.

Here’s the good news. My wheelchair survived the entire trip, all eight airplanes, with NO significant damage! That’s right – NONE! The seat elevation control box is bent a bit, but it is still attached, still functional and there is no other damage! Yes, I just wrote three sentences in a row which ended in exclamation points. But, when you consider this is the first trip I have EVER taken which did not involve me filing a damage claim for wheelchair repairs, I think there may be a need for even more exclamation points! Especially since this trip involved more than one airline, more than one country, and more than one opportunity for damage!

Thank you Southwest, Qantas and JetStar for delivering my chair promptly and in working order at every stop on my trip. I will be writing letters to each airline, commending them for the excellent service I received during my trips.

I will spend the day writing other posts and updates on my trip. I hope to have posts about each day completed by the end of the week. My posts for Redefining Disability will return next week.

In the meantime, I will start unpacking and figuring out my life back at home. And I think there may still be a basketball game or two on….

The Next Two Weeks

"Flag of Australia". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia -
“Flag of Australia”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia –

Last September I started my blog with the goal of developing my writing habit. I also started blogging because I knew I would be traveling to Australia and I wanted to be able to share my journey with friends and family back home.

Fast forward six months and my date of departure is TOMORROW!!! At this time tomorrow, I will be waiting to board the first of my four flights which will take me half-way around the world.

What does that mean for DeeScribes? It means for the next two weeks, I will use this platform to share stories of my adventure. I am excited to have a way to let my loved ones, and all of you, into my experience. It’s almost as good as being able to take you with me.

When I was fundraising for this trip, I offered “blog post sponsorship” as a reward gift. This means I will be mentioning friends, family and supporters each day for the next two weeks in my posts. I appreciate everyone who made this trip a possibility, not just those I will name on this site. You are making it possible for me to share my message of living without limits with an international audience. Thank you doesn’t seem adequate to express how grateful I am.

Pack your bags, throw some cold ones in your Esky, and join me. I reckon we’ll have a fair dinkum adventure!